After God spent six days creating, Genesis tells us on the seventh day he rested from all his work. God builds this pattern of work and rest into the law, teaching us to observe a day of Sabbath rest during our week. The Pharisees missed the intent of the law and turned it into something overly legalistic. Jesus came along and urged them to remember that observing the Sabbath was designed to give them freedom from labor and provide an opportunity to rest and worship God. If we are constantly at work we become enslaved to providing for ourselves, and we come to believe everything depends upon what we can do. The rhythm of Sabbath rest reminds us that God is the creator and giver of all good things, and he knows just what we need. He gives us permission to rest, actually he models it and commands it. Our society never stops, and as a whole, we no longer observe the Sabbath like past generations. We need to discipline ourselves to slow down and disconnect on a regular basis so that we create space for God to speak into our lives and refresh our souls.
Mark 2:23 – 3:6
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.